Walmart Is First Marketer of the Year at AHAA Conference

Hispanic Group Recognizes Commitment to Multicultural Efforts

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Walmart was named the first Marketer of the Year by AHAA: The Voice of Hispanic Marketing at the Hispanic group's annual conference on Wednesday in Miami.

Walmart is AHAA's first Marketer of the Year.
Walmart is AHAA's first Marketer of the Year.

Tony Rogers, Walmart's senior VP-brand marketing and advertising, and Greg Warren, VP-creative marketing, accepted the award by Skype after being stranded in Chicago on their way to Miami.

In its announcement of the new honor, AHAA cited Ad Age's coverage of a Walmart presentation from the October 2012 Association of National Advertisers' multicultural marketing conference, where the two Walmart execs pledged that the company would double its 2013 multicultural ad spending. The move was part of a sweeping initiative to move the company from a silo-like approach and ensure everyone takes full responsibility for multicultural marketing.

"The focus of AHAA the last two years has been to broaden how we represent marketing," said Roberto Orci, chair of AHAA and CEO of independent Hispanic shop Acento Advertising in Los Angeles. "We used to be all about advertising."

Honoring an annual Marketer of the Year, he said, is a good way to represent all marketing channels and bring best-in-class stories to AHAA members.

"Walmart is a good recipient because not only did they say they were going to do it, they did it," he said.

AHAA's criteria for the award included a top-down commitment to Hispanic and other multicultural marketing, significant spending, and incorporating Hispanic into the company's overall strategy with measurable accountability.

Walmart spent about $60 million on Hispanic marketing alone in both 2011 and 2012. At the ANA conference last October, Mr. Rogers said that 100% of Walmart's growth in sales is going to come from multicultural customers, leading the company to decide to at least double its spending to reach those customers in 2013.

He also described other initiatives Walmart is taking, including monthly meetings of a multicultural advisory committee with Chief Marketing Officer Stephen Quinn, requiring progress reports at the company's weekly Monday morning meetings and giving multicultural agencies "a seat at the table" so their work doesn't lag general market efforts.

At the ANA presentation last October, Mr. Rogers outlined four key lessons: One, make multicultural part of everything you do, rather than projects in silos. Two, train people. Three, set goals and keep score. Four, build partnerships and leverage people outside your company.

In an earlier appearance, Mr. Rogers made headlines by announcing at the ANA's 2011 multicultural conference that the company was going to "blow up" its multicultural marketing budget and move the money into the company's individual business units.

That set in motion Mr. Rogers' return to the ANA a year later with Mr. Warren to report on their progress, and today's Marketer of the Year honor from AHAA.

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